Supertramp: Original Playa

Supertramp - Breakfast in America (CD)A couple of weeks ago I was listening to KJToonz in the MvOD and Supertramp’s “Goodbye Stranger” queued up on the playlist. It’s a song that I’d probably heard a hundred times, recognized instantly, could hum the melody and sing along with the chorus… and had never actually listened to. Certain snippets of the lyrics (“Like a ship without an anchor, like a slave without a chain…”) stuck in my head, but I didn’t attach any real meaning to them. To me, it was just a guy saying goodbye to a couple of women:

Goodbye stranger, it’s been nice,
hope you find your paradise.

Goodbye Mary. Goodbye Jane,
will we ever meet again?

For whatever reason, I processed the song differently that night, and it was like hearing it for the first time. Underneath that familiar and—dare I say—beloved melody Roger Hodgson was telling a story that I’d never really heard before. Roger Hodgson was telling the story of a stone cold playa: the early morning lover who must be movin’ on.

The snippets of lyrics I knew so well were immediately followed by the shocking truth:

Just the thought of those sweet ladies
sends a shiver through my veins

I’ve been listening to Supertramp since I was six! How could I possibly go twenty-six years without realizing that “Goodbye Stranger” is about the king of one-night stands? It’s enough to make one question everything.

Actually, I think the key is that I have been familiar with the song for so long. When I was six years old, I hadn’t the faintest idea why Hodgson would be saying goodbye to Mary and Jane, much less what a one-night stand was. Yet I heard the song enough times (thanks to my older brothers and the wonders of vinyl) that the whole of it became imprinted in my memory and it never occurred to me during the intervening years to apply my expanded knowledge of the world to a song I’d been listening to since I was six.

Now that I’m done having my epiphany I have to go figure out what the hell “Lord is it Mine” is about.

10 thoughts on “Supertramp: Original Playa”

  1. And thus started your journey to the dark side…

    It was all about Supertramp, ABBA and Rush at thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute.

  2. I’m guessing you listened to your older siblings records at said RPM’s?

    I believe you were older than six for Rush, however.

    Was there any more Supertramp at Messy Manor other than Breakfast in America?

    ABBA is still in rotation at the ‘rents. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them back when the Earth was still cooling.

  3. Yet I heard the song enough times (thanks to my older brothers and the wonders of vinyl)

    Duh, sometinmes I just need to read the text out loud to MFC.

    Answers that question.

    And thus started your journey to the dark side…

    I think that would’ve been more after Rush:2112 than Supertramp. Then again, maybe Dancing Queen has some backwards masking.

  4. To the best of my knowledge, Breakfast in America is the only Supertramp album ever to grace the halls of Messy Manor. The album was released in 1979, which is why I established my age at six. Whether that is when the album was purchased, I don’t know.

    I couldn’t say when exactly Lee, Lifeson and Peart were added to the rotation, but 2112 was released way back in 1976. While checking that date on Amazon.com, I found that the album has been covered by a string quartet. I’m very curious about that.

  5. I couldn’t say when exactly Lee, Lifeson and Peart were added to the rotation, but 2112 was released way back in 1976. While checking that date on Amazon.com, I found that the album has been covered by a string quartet. I’m very curious about that.

    The descent to darkness accelerated by Rush was introduced by KJWon, for I was mostly into Country and Top 40 (not too hard to believe considering local radio at that time) until the early Eighties.

    I’m not too sure about a string quartet rendering of 2112, although Leo Kotke has done a very laid back version of Sweet Emotion, not to mention Johnny Cash’s cover of Rusty Cage. More appropriate(?) would be Third Eye Open: The String Tribute to Tool.

  6. The descent to darkness accelerated by Rush was introduced by KJWon, for I was mostly into Country and Top 40 (not too hard to believe considering local radio at that time) until the early Eighties.

    BOGUS! I was seduced to the darkside when my oldest brother (whodat?) came home from college with a cassette tape containing ‘Permanent Waves’ and ‘Moving Pictures’! Until then, I thought there only two kinds of music: Country and Western!

  7. BOGUS! I was seduced to the darkside when my oldest brother (whodat?) came home from college with a cassette tape containing ‘Permanent Waves’ and ‘Moving Pictures’! Until then, I thought there only two kinds of music: Country and Western!

    I stand corrected. I’m not sure if that was my first or second year, since I fought the dark side in the beginning, mostly because my roomate was such an ass about it. By the second year I was embracing it.

    Only two Rush albums made the transfer to digital. I can’t remember the last time I’ve listened to either. ABBA and Supertramp have so far failed the transition completely.

  8. I’ve only got Chronicles, but I’d like to pick up Farewell to Kings someday. That, along with Yello’s Flag, was the soundtrack to my early gaming life (playing Ancient Art of War at Sea, AD&D Pool of Radiance and, yes, Wings of Fury).

    As for ABBA, I’ve got a greatest hits CD rattling around here somewhere, and it’s on the iPod. I’ve also got Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, but I’d be hard-pressed to name another of their albums.

  9. ABBA was in rotation last time we were at Messy Manor. I had forgotten how catchy their tunes could be. Ewww, something in me rebels at the thought of that.

    No time for deep analysis now, I’m off to bed.

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